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Why is it important to study Dementia with Lewy Bodies?

Accurate diagnosis is important. Currently, it is difficult to make a definite diagnosis of DLB while a patient is still alive due to the significant overlap between DLB, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. DLB is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease.  Diagnosing DLB accurately is important because DLB patients can respond differently to certain medications

What are the most common symptoms of DLB?

Dementia with Lewy Bodies does include some memory loss, but the most common symptoms are fluctuating levels of alertness and attention, visual hallucinations, and movement problems. Frequent drowsiness, lethargy, and spending long periods of time staring into space can be signs of DLB.  DLB patients may see things that others do not see, and may have problems with stiffness and slow movement.  They may also act out their dreams

What are the treatments for Dementia with Lewy Bodies?

There are no medications specifically prescribed to treat DLB; currently there is no cure. Many patients with DLB are quite sensitive to a class of medications known as neuroleptics, which are prescribed to treat hallucinations.  However, DLB patients often respond well to cholinesterase inhibitors, a class of drugs commonly prescribed to treat the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

What is the prognosis for a person diagnosed with DLB?

Generally the disease course is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in terms of years lived with the illness. A small minority of DLB patients could experience a more rapid course of the disease, passing away within 2-3 years of disease onset

What changes occur in the brain as DLB develops?

Scientists are conducting research right now to find out exactly how the brain changes as DLB develops. The most striking feature in the brains of people with DLB is the formation of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites; both of these are results of specific proteins accumulating abnormally in the brain.  Most DLB cases also display Alzheimer’s-type changes in the brain as well, in the form of amyloid plaques. All of this information is discovered upon autopsy. Because there is significant overlap between DLB and Alzheimer’s disease, it is difficult for doctors to differentiate between these diseases without looking directly into the brain.

To read more about Dementia with Lewy Bodies, click here.

DLB Information

DLB Research at UCSD

DLB Research Team

Other Resources